Saturday, April 28, 2007

New News

While we're creating the infrastructure for our learning center and other endeavors, you might like to join us in the daily discussions posted at our other weblogs Skookum, Friends of Spartacus, and Mill U. There's almost always something happening that's bound to interest you, and we'd sure enjoy your joining in.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Archive Rescue

While two of our volunteers are in the midst of rescuing Public Good's digital archives, other volunteers are maintaining paper and microfilm records for future scanning. Some are busy discovering and rediscovering lost or misplaced documents from the last fourteen years.

This winter, reading accounts--by freedom fighters worldwide--of the value of accessible archival repositories, I realized how much we have benefitted ourselves from the lessons learned in Hattiesburg, Capetown, Oslo, and Belfast. Reflecting on our own role in the pursuit of greater humanity, it also became clear it was an opportune time for us to return the favor.

With that in mind, we're asking you--our readers and friends--to help us defray the costs associated with this labor of love. Every little bit helps.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Preparing for Battle

The current controversies over casinos and energy resources on Indian lands in the US prompted us to clarify for our colleagues just what is at stake over tribal sovereignty. While environmental issues related to endangered salmon or nuclear toxic waste dumping on reservations are fairly well known, the goals and objectives of the Wise Use Movement are less clearly understood.

The ultimate goal of the energy industry in the United States is the establishment of a totalitarian government, a state where its citizens have no civil or human rights, a country where the rule of law protects only the powerful, and a continent where industry can operate with impunity. The energy industry's key objectives include repealing all environmental, health and safety regulations, and terminating all treaties with Indian tribes.

Intermediate objectives over water allocations, energy rights-of-way, trust fund royalties, public land leases, and tribal jurisdiction are the building blocks of corporate fascism in the US. The inattention to this phenomenon, the inability to see the anti-democratic movement in its totality, and the failure to anticipate the proven methods of mobilizing fear and resentment over energy insecurity, ensure the battle for control of American energy resources will be an especially vicious and brutal one.

What we can do is to inform and educate ourselves. Forewarned is forearmed.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Learning Center Update

Some recent developments might interest our readers. As you might recall, we've been working on establishing a learning center here on San Francisco Bay where we would teach investigative research to community activists from across the country. We and our colleagues would serve as advisors, faculty, and mentors to these students that fly in for seminars and symposia. Presently, this is done ad hoc through distance-learning over the Internet.

We recently discovered that some of our work is being used in courses at Annenberg School for Communication (USC), Columbia University (New York), and Monterey Institute of International Studies. With that in mind, we are in the process of rebuilding the Public Good Project website. Two of our communications design and infrastructure advisors have volunteered to complete this task.

We also noticed that Political Research Associates in Boston (the largest repository of information on the anti-democratic movement in the US) has given our 2001 report on research as an organizing tool top billing. Anticipating additional recognition and connections, one of our associates from Austin flew in recently and we looked at a suitable property for the learning center, but for now that remains a dream. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Anyway, thought you'd appreciate an update.

PS While Public Good's website is under reconstruction, we've made some of our most popular articles, papers and reports available on the Continuity homepage.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Athena's Camp

As Paul de Armond observed in his paper The Road to Athena's Camp, "Information is data that changes behavior." Noting that the overwhelming abundance of data available on the Internet and elsewhere is mostly just noise--as opposed to facts that are proved by evidence--Paul goes on to say that, "Information is the facts that matter."

Determining which facts matter, of course, requires painstaking analysis. Making these facts useful, in turn consists of putting them into a coherent whole by composing a unifying narrative that makes sense of it all.

Applied research--where information is gathered for a purpose, analyzed with that purpose in mind, and presented in a way that is understandable to those who will use it--is what Paul calls research as an organizing tool. Or, as he describes the relationship, "Knowledge is information in a framework; wisdom is where knowledge meets the world."

Monday, April 02, 2007

Too Polite to Fight?

One of the things that consistently derails community activists in public hearings, is the choreography of businessmen or social entrepreneurs who've had access to workshops on how to lie and maintain their composure while goading the untrained into ill-considered responses. Politicians practice duplicity, but psychological warfare almost never occurs to the sincere.

What the bad guys are often not prepared for (because they rarely see it) is the use of opposition research in these public venues--the presentation of documents into the public record that implicates them in embarrassing if not illegal behavior. By not responding to their bogus assertions, but rather attacking their credibility and integrity head on, they frequently storm stiff-jawed out of the courthouse in front of television cameras.

Sometimes their stooges even demand time to refute the ad hominem charges, repeating them over and over again in front of news reporters and public officials. Of course, this tool does no good in the hands of those who are too polite to fight.